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Haitus October 7, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Uncategorized.
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I realize that have not written a post in quite some time, and plan to begin posting again soon.


Is Homosexuality a Choice? August 15, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Homosexuality, Humanity, Naturalism, Religion.
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Is being gay a choice, or is it hereditary?

I’ve noticed that in the last couple years the overwhelming majority of those around me have given up on this issue. “Who knows,” they say. The truth is, strong opposition to an issue is almost always led by some individual or group with a personal agenda. In this case, that opposition stems from the abrahamic religions.

Let’s get one thing straight immediately: Being gay isn’t a choice. Did you choose to be straight or were you naturally attracted to the opposite sex? Test it yourself: Try to turn gay. If it really is a choice, you can always choose to change back. Really, what husband chooses to destroy his career, hurt his kids and wife, and often even make himself an outcast among his peers? Look at the rich, powerful people in America who have given up everything because they couldn’t suppress parts of themselves any longer just to look ‘normal.’ There isn’t a single shred of evidence that shows homosexuality is a chosen lifestyle.

But homosexuality isn’t hereditary, either. Do the math. The genes wouldn’t carry over to many children for obvious reasons, would they? The social situation we are living in currently wasn’t the case 5,000 years ago.

The solution, then, is that events – and possibly also chemicals – experienced in a person’s life shape what their preferences become. This begins immediately – there are studies that show that even the hormones present in the womb may affect the child later in life. This change occurs over time both consciously and subconsciously, and it cannot be “helped.”

So who would say otherwise? You guessed it – those who want to defend and protect their religion.

If being gay is hereditary or cannot be prevented, then God makes people that way on purpose, and then punishes them for something in which they had no choice. Yahweh creates an ‘abomination’ by his own definition, and then punishes it for being an ‘abomination’. Is this loving? Just? Merciful? Wise?

To get around this, believers in the abrahamic religions will continue to argue that homosexuality is a choice until they have fully lost the social battle and begin to lose conversion rates because of it. Then they will “reinterpret.”

Apollonius Of Tyana: The Great Healer August 15, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Atheism, Religion.
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Thousands of years ago, a charismatic teacher and miracle worker roamed the lands of a country now called Turkey. Followed by numerous disciples of varying trades, this teacher went from town to town, performing miracles and curing disease wherever he went. He met with many important officials – Titus, Vespasian, and Domitian to name a few – and attempted to aid them with a few choice kernels of wisdom.

These sayings were often very generic, and even silly at times: “although the soul wants to ascend to heaven, mountaineering does not bring it closer to God.” However, word of his healing of the sick, raising of the dead, seeing of the future, and other such miracles gained him a wide following.

Apollonius’ birth was marked by several phenomenal events. Probably the most believable of these occurred at his birth itself: Just before being born, Apollonius’ mother wondered through a field late one night before falling asleep in the grass. Some wondering swans, having just flown a long way, landed nearby, and by their cries and beating of wings, awoke her with such a start that Apollonius was born. These swans had foreseen the birth of a king and had come to witness it. Estimates place the birth of Apollonius to have occurred about 3 years prior to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Some time into his 80s, Apollonius simply dissapeared. Some accounts state that he simply left his house and never returned. Others say that he dissapeared while spending a night at meditation in a temple. Others still believe that he simply dissapeared while on his own deathbed. No one knows of the Tomb of Apollonius, if one exists, or where it might be located. After his death, many writers wrote about his life and of the fantastic miracles he accomplished during his travels.

“I shall continue to speak with you as though you were present,” Apollonius is said to have told his disciples the last time he was with them.

Biblical Flaws? August 2, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Religion.
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This may be nitpicking, yes. Still, I found these interesting:

DT 6:5, MT 22:37, MK 12:30, LK 10:27 Love God.
DT 6:13, PS 33:8, 34:9, 111:10IS 8:13, LK 12:5, 1PE 2:17 Fear God.
1JN 4:18 There is no fear in love.

PR 30:5 Every word of God proves true.
2TH 2:11-12 <- Heh, well, not every. (More: 1KI 22:23, 2CH 18:22, JE 4:10, JE 20:7, EZ 14:9 )

MT 16:28, MK 9:1, LK 9:27 Jesus says that some of his listeners will not taste death before he comes again in his kingdom. This was said almost 2000 years ago. (They have all tasted death)

MK 16:17-18 A believer can handle snakes or drink poison and not experience any harm. (Note: Many unfortunate believers have died as a result of handling snakes and drinking poison.) 

Note that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John along with some other books are all included above…

The Pope is supposed to be divinely guided. Popes have made many mistakes. (See: Crusades, Inquisition, et al) The Biblical authors are supposed to be divinely inspired. The Biblical authors have made many mistakes. Not only have the authors made mistakes, though, but also the group that chose which books were worthy for the Bible itself. Further, I’d wager that at least some of the innumerable copyists who edited the Bible over thousands of years have written some things incorrectly. I also think that if there were inspired gospels, it is highly possible that some might not even be in the Bible for the reason stated above.

So what to do when part of the Bible is wrong, part is missing, and another part is up for debate over its interpretation? Read it for ideas about how to believe in god yourself, if you do believe in god. Don’t cling to it and look to it for reasons to condemn gays, smoking, gambling, and wearing earrings. Form opinions and stances for yourself, and don’t be afraid to be different than the book or even the church itself. I’m sure an all-loving and compassionate god would understand, given the circumstances.

Communion is Bullshit July 31, 2008

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Hebrews 10:10: “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

John 19:30: “It is finished.”

Why is a sacrifice still going on that was supposed to have ended 2,000 years ago? According to the parishes where I live, and my personal upbringing, Catholics do believe that the sacrifice actually takes place in communion – that the host is actually god. So why torture god by dividing him, mashing him between your teeth, and boiling him in your digestive system when it isn’t needed? As a sign of respect? Possibly. But there are other ways of showing respect.

Where do you get the authority to sacrifice your own god on a weekly basis without reason? I also just don’t understand why you would eat your god – or even why you would need a ritual to do it when god is supposedly already in all things.

Is it to remember? The Crucifixion is remembered through statues of Jesus hanging from crosses, not through a reenactment. You might think this a rediculous comparison, but to be honest they amount to the same: the ruin of the body of Jesus.

It interests me to think about how Communion came about. It sure makes for a strong reason to make sure people come back every week. Since, of course, they don’t have the authority to break their own bread or remember on their own.

Agnosticism and Atheism are not Mutually Exclusive July 30, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Agnosticism, Atheism.
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Recently I have read several blogs criticizing Atheists based on a common logical argument. I’ve literally been reading this (though worded differently) everywhere:

Draw a circle on a piece of paper, placing a single dot in the center that represents you. Everything you can possibly understand is illustrated by the circle. How can you claim to know about what is outside of the circle? In other words, how can Atheists know that there isn’t a god without being all-knowing themselves?

A lot of bloggers cite this as the reason that they are “agnostic rather than atheistic.” This results from a misunderstanding of the terms.

Agnostic (Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge) is a statement of knowledge. If you claim to be agnostic, you claim to be unable to prove whether or not a god or gods exist. You can be an agnostic theist, one who believes in a god but cannot prove its existence, or you can be an agnostic atheist, one who cannot prove or disprove gods, but does not believe in them.

In the same way that being agnostic is a statement of knowledge, atheism is a statement of belief. In answer to the question above, the atheist does not believe that there is circle at all, or rather that the circle emcompasses all that exists. While the theist would ask, “How can you prove that what is outside the circle doesn’t exist?” The Atheist would ask, “How can you prove that it does?”

The Cons of Religion July 26, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Humanity, Religion.
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“The most henious and the must cruel crimes of which history has record have been committed under the cover of religion or equally noble motives.”  Mohandas K. Gandhi

The guy has a point. But beyond the crusades, Jihads, fanatical sect violence, the inquisition, and faith-driven terrorist attacks, religion causes most of the day to day prejudice in the world. Though the countless bloody wars that have been fought for imaginary friends may seem to be a thing of the past, people today are still dying for this shit.

When you take what guys in hats and robes tell you blindly as fact, you become severly restricted in free thinking and even in personality growth. These guys in hats, by the way, being the religious leaders who compete with one another like businessmen in a common market, trying to sell their product as the most genuine. The second you subscribe to one of these products, you rebuke the others, further dividing humanity. Why does god have to be so discriminatory? There is even division within each religion between those who interpret scripture differently or who practice with varying degrees of strictness.

I also believe religion slows down humanity as a whole, the most obvious reason for this being that some of those who died in the name of religion probably had a lot to contribute to society. But with democracy so widespread in the world, a large religious majority has an effect even on those who take no part in it. Stem cell research and other fields of study have been slowed drastically because of the opposition from believers. The evolution theory has been downplayed and hidden from children in favor of a fundamentalist teaching in places. The Catholic church, being such a large body, makes itself a lagging factor on all of humanity by taking a longer time to adjust towards tolerance than everyone else. Examples of this include racism, religious tolerance, and sexism (You have to have a penis to be a priest? Hmm?). You can see this same transition in effect today with the strong anti-homosexuality stance held by the church.

Make no mistake, I have nothing against people of religion. As people, you are just as interesting and varying as anyone else. However, I do take issues with what you believe in because in many cases which are stated above, you make it my business to do so.

Top Ten Religions July 25, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in Religion.
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Apparently, a third of the world is now Christian. Followed by Islam (20.1%), Hinduism (13.3%), and Buddhism (5.9%).

A few things are really suprising with this list. First, whoa, one in three people are Christians. But second, whoa, one in five people are muslims.

You might be thinking Judaism is next after Buddhism on this list. It’s not. Sikhism is. Once a frontrunner in the race for souls, god’s people have seemingly not shown the endurance necessary to outpace some of the younger religions. Here’s the complete list (Numbers are estimated, of course):

Religion Members Percentage
Christianity 2.1 billion 33.0%
Islam 1.3 billion 20.1
Hinduism 851 million 13.3
Buddhism 375 million 5.9
Sikhism 25 million 0.4
Judaism 15 million 0.2%
Baha’ism 7.5 million 0.1
Confucianism 6.4 million 0.1
Jainism 4.5 million 0.1
Shintoism 2.8 million 0.0

In my ignorance, I didn’t even know what Baha’ism was until I saw this list and looked it up, and I must say that it looks like a pretty solid religion, if that’s what you’re into. I could definately see myself becoming a Baha’ist (?) before most of the religions on this list, with the exception possibly of Buddhism (Rebirth(Sorry Ichxian!) sounds pretty cool).

As for the movers on the list, Islam is growing the fastest, followed by Baha’ism, Sikhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and then Christianity. (Percentage growths)

A False Sense of Insecurity July 24, 2008

Posted by atheismandhappiness in International Affairs, Paranoia, War.
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Ever since 9/11, the top priority for the United States, and much of the world, has been putting an end to terrorism – an idea. Ignoring the obvious fact that you can never eradicate terrorism – an idea – completely, a worldwide war has been launched against it. This war has costed the United States alone over 700 billion dollars between Iraq and Afganistan, and has claimed the lives of 4,124 American soldiers at this point in time. Further, our estimated wounded is between 20,000 and 100,000, with the official number being 30, 435.

In the historical view, that isn’t a terrying number of casualties. However, 1,245,000 estimated iraqi deaths is, and that’s just the number we know of. I doubt we have made a huge effort to go and count them all, personally. This number is higher than that in the Rwandan genocide and doesn’t even include the numbers from the Afganistan war.

The perceived threat of terrorism has been the underlying justification for both the Afganistan and Iraq wars, and was a crucial factor for rallying support for George W. Bush’s ’04 campaign. But just how overplayed was this threat?

In WWII, Hitler’s regime and allies were considered a direct threat to the stability of the entire globe. Millions died from the outset, and even then the United States was reluctant to commit itself militarily. In the Cold War, the Soviets and the United States both held the power to destroy eachother, and much of the world, with the push of a few buttons. In comparison, a few bearded guys in a backwards land don’t seem as much of a threat.

While a terrorist attack in America might kill a few people, it wouldn’t directly damage the country as a whole in any significant way. Infact, the number of people worldwide who die yearly due to terrorism is only a few hundred. Lightning strikes, accidents caused by deer, allergic reactions to peanuts, and the number of U.S. citizens that drown each year in bathtubs claim more lives than global terrorism does. Or how about the pollution in California, which kills an estimated (and ever increasing) 24,000 a year.

Then there’s the worry over a chemical or biological attack. However, to this point deaths from terrorist biological attacks have been almost nonexistant. The well funded chemical attack in Tokyo in 1995 only managed to kill 12 people. And if it is so easy to pull off one of these attacks, how come the more-vulnerable Israel has never been the target of one?

No, the real damage from terrorism comes from the measures taken to prevent it. New airline security measures cost the economy billions every year. Law enforcement agencies spend large sums on learning new techniques for dealing with unlikely situations and on buying surveillance equipment. The war itself, launched as a preventative measure, has already costed the country a pre-stated amount rising all the time. And yet by drawing all of this attention to the problem, it isn’t certain whether we have had any affect. Infact, some fear that we have aided the recruiting of groups such as Al Quaeda by angering and displacing so many people, making them stronger than ever as a movement. But the largest costs may be unquantifiable: The invasion of personal rights by the U.S. government in the name of homeland security (PATRIOT Act, for example), the overplayed fear instilled in Americans mostly by their own government and media, and even racism towards those of arab descent.

The point is, the chances of a terrorist attack occuring are extremely small. However, they are there, and there is very little you can do to change them. How much are you willing to give up in terms of quality of life, money, and American and coalition lives for actions that may be reassuring initially but in reality do almost nothing?

Or possibly an even more important question, how many lives could have been saved by spending this money on services like a stronger public health system or on fighting malaria, which claims between 1.5 and 2.7 million deaths per year?